AN: I have so many 2010 fics bouncing round in my brain that it's not even funny. If you like this, then you might want to read "Of Dreams and Dogs."
Dr. Jackson was astonished and disappointed when he learned that the Aschen had no fairytales. Apparently they were very different from earth cultures, in that they believed there was a rational, scientific explanation behind every phenomenon. This probably explained how they were so far ahead of us.
In any case, they were fascinated by our myths, legends, and folktales. They delighted in tales of elves, dragons, and princesses, but they truly loved the ones about shape-shifting half-humans; the mermaids, dryads, were-creatures, and Selkies, magical seals who could shed their furs and dance on the moonlit beach as beautiful human beings. How do you know, they inquired, that these creatures of fancy were not in fact visitors from another world? They did have a point. After all the Roswell Grays had turned out to be real.
I always knew she loved Jack. I always knew that if the Aschen hadn't come along, if they hadn't brought me into things, she would have wound up with him.
So privately, I was grateful to the Aschen for two things, the salvation they granted us, the weapons, the medicine, the technology.
And for driving Jack O'Neill away.
The tales of Selkies were tragic. A poor farmer or rich lord would happen along a group of beautiful seal women, and steal one of their sealskins, forcing its owner to remain on land, and consent to be his wife. She would be unhappy at first, but she would gradually adjust. She might even convince her husband she was happy. She might even convince herself.
And she would bear children. Halfling children, doomed to wander at the fringes of both peoples, the Selkies and the Land Men, accepted by neither, shunned by both.
We were living on borrowed time. Sooner or later, she would have found out about the population decrease. Deep down, I knew she wouldn't see it my way, as the deal-breaker in the negotiations. It was either population controls or eventual, inevitable massacre, courtesy of the Goa'uld. I rationalized that surely there were things she'd never told me and bet on the fact that she hated the Goa'uld more than she hated sterilizing part of our population.
More than she hated not being able to have children of her own.
I looked at her, tried fruitlessly to smooth back her hair. She was so beautiful, even with the horrible burns marking her face, the bloodstains on her fingers, her hair still stubbornly wild and untamed.
All the tales ended the same way. After all the years of relative complacency, husband and reluctant wife lulled into a false sense of security, there would be a lapse, a mistake, and something would slip. The Selkie would find her sealskin, in a locked chest, or a sandy grave, and she would flee back to her birth waters, the waves themselves opening to receive her and welcome her home.
I knew when I handed over the GDO that I was handing her the sealskin I never knew I'd taken.
The call of the sea had returned, the sea that danced blue and captivating within a stone ring, and she hadn't been able to resist.
And now she lay on the stone steps, as if washed up on a rocky shore, her fellow fairy-tale creatures scattered around her. It seemed that once again science had triumphed over humans and their beliefs that were unfounded and unsupported by anything but their own hope. Fairy-tales, and our willingness to believe them, have proved to be a human weakness.
I wiped a hand across my eyes, then caressed her cheek, bestowing the kiss of what little saltwater I possessed.
This wasn't how the tale was supposed to end. I fit the part of the grieving husband, abandoned and betrayed. The Selkie however was supposed to live on, beautiful and immortal, returning every now and then to dance upon the sand.
She was not supposed to die.
Apparently, for a creature of the sea, death by drowning is better than a long life on dry and barren land.